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Diary of a Foodie

Vietnamese Chicken and Pineapple Soup

Diary of a Foodie: Season Three: India & Vietnam: Complex Cuisine

Serves6 to 8 (first course)
  • Active time:1 hr
  • Start to finish:1 hr
January 2009
This recipe calls for fresh lemon verbena, but you can substitute 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass if lemon verbena is unavailable. Both ingredients are sold at specialty produce markets, but lemongrass is also sold at Asian markets and some supermarkets, so it may be easier to find. If using lemongrass, discard 1 or 2 outer leaves, then thinly slice lower 6 inches of stalk. Finely chop, then sauté along with chiles and garlic.

Watch a clip of this Diary of a Foodie episode and view its accompanying recipes. Plus, explore all episodes and more recipes from the show.
  • 1 pineapple (preferably labeled “extra sweet”; about 3 1/2 lb)
  • About 2 qt water
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (3/4 lb total)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 (1-inch) fresh red Thai chiles*, minced, including seeds
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts (2 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh lemon verbena
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Accompaniment:

    rice
  • Cut peel from pineapple in a thin layer and discard, then trim outer layer of pineapple, cutting just deep enough to remove eyes but allowing pineapple to remain intact, and transfer trimmings to a blender. Quarter pineapple lengthwise and cut out core, then coarsely chop core and transfer to blender. Purée with 2 cups water until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart glass measure, pressing hard on solids (discard solids), then add enough water to measure 8 cups pineapple broth.
  • Cut remaining pineapple into 1/2-inch pieces and put in a bowl.
  • Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound chicken 1/4 inch thick with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin. Cut chicken across the grain into 1/4-inch-wide strips and transfer to a bowl, then chill, covered.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chiles and 2 tablespoons garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup fish sauce and boil until sauce is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. (Fish sauce will be extremely pungent when first added but will have a mild flavor in soup.) Add pineapple broth and bring to a boil. Stir in pineapple pieces, mushrooms, tomatoes, bean sprouts, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
  • While soup simmers, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté remaining tablespoon garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce and simmer until sauce is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and add to garlic mixture, then sauté, stirring, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  • Stir chicken into soup along with herbs and salt and simmer 1 minute.
*Available at Southeast Asian markets and some specialty produce markets.
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